Collins admits in federal court to insider trading charges and to lying about it
|Chris Collins in Buffalo, Aug. 2018|
As part of his guilty plea in Federal Court in New York City this afternoon, former Congressman Chris Collins, who resigned his NY-27 seat yesterday, admitted that his actions, in tipping his son to a failed drug trial, were "anything but what a model citizen would take.”
He told the judge, “I regret my actions beyond anything that I could explain today.”
Collins reportedly pled guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and making false statements.
The case against Collins began with reporting by Jerry Zremski of the Buffalo News, who was curious about the congressman's involvement with Innate Immunotherapeutics and so he began digging into public documents that raised questions about Collins behavior.
At the time, Collins dismissed Zremski's reporting as "fake news" but the stories eventually led to an FBI investigation as well as a House Ethics Committee investigation.
In August 2018, Collins was indicted on numerous charges stemming from his insider trading activities, most notably, a phone call he made to his son Cameron Christopher Collins from the White House lawn in June 2018 where Collins shared insider information about a failed drug trial.
This led to Cameron Collins allegedly dumping some $800,000 worth of stock as well as suspicious stock trades by people associated with the Collins family.
Chris Collins, who was the first member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump for president, denied the charges and repeatedly lied to constituents about his innocence, claiming he would be "fully exonerated." He narrowly won reelection in November 2018 while maintaining the fiction that he was innocent.
Today in Federal Court he admitted to the White House phone call and said that he was "shocked and devastated" by the news of a failed drug trial and informed his son while in an "emotional state."
Outside the courtroom, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, Geoffery Berman, a Trump appointee, said:
"Moments ago former New York Congressman Christopher Collins pled guilty to insider trading; and the lying to the FBI in order to cover up his insider trading scheme. Collins admitted to among other things illegally tipping his son while standing on the White House lawn. By virtue of his position, Collins helped write the laws of this country and acted as if the law didn't apply to him.
"This courthouse is a representation personifies to incorporate the ideal of equal justice under law. No one is above the law. That is because of our office's commitment to the pursuit of that ideal that Collins is now a convicted felon and no longer a member of Congress."
Now that Collins is out of office, it will be up to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to decide whether to call for a special election or let the sit vacant through 2020.
New York City reporting for this story courtesy WXXI in Rochester.